The Tripartite Life of St. Patrick contains the following interesting account of the conversion of Manxmen to Christianity:--St. Patrick having by means of a miracle converted a wicked man of Ulster, called Macc Cuill, and his men, the following incident is related:--"Then they were silent, and said, 'Truly this man Patrick is a man of God.' They all forthwith believed, and Macc Cuill believed, and at Patrick's behest he went into the sea in a coracle of (only) one hide. . . . Now Macc Cuill went on that day to sea, with his right hand towards Maginis, till he reached Mann, and found two wonderful men in the island before him. And it is they that preached God's Word
in Mann, and through their preaching the men of that island were baptized. Conindri and Romuil were their names. Now, when these men saw Macc Cuill in his coracle, they took him from the sea, and received him with a welcome; and he learnt the divine rule with them, until he took the bishopric after them. This is Macc Cuill from the sea," the illustrious bishop and prelate of Arduimen. 1 It has been conjectured with reasonable probability, for reasons that need not be given here, that Macc Cuill is identical with Maughold. In this story of the conversion of the Manx there is probably a substratum of fact mingled with fiction. The "Traditionary Ballad" gives the following account of it:--
The St. Maughold referred to above is said to have been one of St. Patrick's earliest disciples. The "Book of Armagh" gives the marvellous story of his conversion by St. Patrick, and in the other accounts of St. Patrick's life are equally marvellous tales about his episcopate. These are all, perhaps, surpassed by the circumstantial statements in the Chronicon Manniæ (see below), concerning his reappearance in the twelfth century to strike dead with his staff a daring pirate who had profaned his sanctuary.
A district adjoining the Boyne was invested by a band of robbers under the command of a chief named Macaldus. Some of these had been converted from the error of their ways by the Missionaries, and their chief was very wroth in consequence against St. Patrick. Hearing that he was to pass along a road in their neighbourhood on a certain day, he and some of his band took up a position by its side, intending to murder him; but as they caught sight of him slowly approaching, and apparently sunk in profound contemplation, they found themselves deprived of all desire to injure him. Still they would not let the opportunity pass without endeavouring to bring ridicule on him by some stratagem. So one of them lay down by the side of the woodland path as if dead, and Macaldus, as the Saint passed by, besought him to restore his dead comrade to life. "I dare not intercede for him," said the Saint, and passed on. Though very well inclined to offer him some insult, they could not muster resolution for the purpose, and when he had gone on a little way, Macaldus ordered the man to rise. But while this poor wretch had been feigning death, life had really deserted his body, and consternation and
remorse now seized on his comrades. Macaldus, foremost in wickedness, was the first to feel repentance. Following St. Patrick, and throwing himself on his knees before him, he besought him to return and intercede for his comrade's restoration, acknowledging the deception they had attempted, and his own readiness to undergo the severest penance the Saint might impose.
The Apostle, retracing his steps, knelt by the dead body, and did not cease to pray till the breath of life entered it again. All the band present vowed on the spot to embrace the faith preached by Patrick, and Macaldus besought the imposition of some most rigorous penance upon himself. Patrick conducted him to the Boyne, and taking a chain from a boat he flung it round him, secured the ends by a padlock, and threw the key into the river. He then made him get into the boat, and trust his course to Providence. "Loose not your chain," said he, "till the key which now lies at the bottom of this river is found and delivered to you. Strive to maintain (with God's help) a spirit of true sorrow; pray without ceasing." He then unmoored the hide covered canoe; it drifted down the river, out by the old seaport of Colpa, and so into the sea.
In twenty hours it was lying by a little harbour in Man, and those who assembled wondered much at the robust form of the navigator, his dejected appearance, and the chain that bound his body. On making enquiry for the abode of a Christian Priest, he found that the Bishop of the Island lived near. He went to his house, told him his former life and present condition, and besought instruction. This was freely given, and the man's conversion found to be sincere. Feeling a strong vocation for the clerical office, he studied unremittingly, and at last came to the eve of the day on which he was to receive holy orders. On that evening the cook, suddenly entering the room in which the Bishop and postulant were conferring, cried out, "Behold, O my master, what I have taken from the belly of a fish just brought in." Macaldus, catching sight of the key in the cook's hand, at once recognised it as the one with which St. Patrick had secured his chain. It was at once applied to its proper use, and he had the happiness of being ordained next day, unencumbered by spiritual or material bonds. At the death of his kind patron and instructor, he was raised to the dignity of the Bishop of Man. 1
The following story about St. Maughold, when residing in the Isle of Man, is from the Triadis Thaumaturgæ of Colgan:--And when he had for some time abided there, a fish was one day taken in the sea, and brought into their dwelling, and when the fish was opened before them, a key was found in his belly, and Machaldus being released from his chains, gave thanks unto God, and went henceforth free; and he increased in holiness, and after the decease of these holy Bishops, 1 attained to the episcopal degree, and being eminent in his miracles and in his virtues, there did he rest. In that Island there was a city called after him, of no small extent, the remains of whose walls may yet be seen, and in the cemetery of its church is a sarcophagus of hollow stone, out of which a spring continually exudes, nay, freely floweth, which is sweet to the palate, whole some to the taste, and healeth divers infirmities, and the deadliness of poison; for whoso drinketh thereof, either receiveth instant health or instantly dieth. In that stone the bones of St. Machaldus are said to rest, yet nothing is found therein save the clear water only; and though many have often times endeavoured to remove the stone, and especially the king of the Norice (of Norway?), who subdued the Island, that he might at all times have sweet water, yet they have all failed in their attempts; for the deeper they dug to raise the stone, so much the more deeply and firmly did they find it fixed in the heart of the earth.
This well is still celebrated for its sanative properties (see ch. vi., "August 12th.")
The next story about him relates to a much later period.
ST. MAUGHOLD AND GILCOLUM.
While Somerlid was at Ramsey, in Man, in 1158, he was informed that his troops intended to plunder the Church of St. Maughold, where a great deal of money had been deposited, in hopes that the veneration due to St. Maughold, added to the sanctity of the place, would secure everything within its precincts. One GilColum, a very powerful chieftain, in particular, drew the attention of Somerlid to these treasures;
and, besides, observed that he did not see how it was any breach of the peace against St. Maughold, if, for the sustenance of the army, they drove off the cattle which were feeding round the churchyard. Somerlid objected to the proposal, and said that he would allow no violence to be offered to St. Maughold. On this, GilColum earnestly petitioned that he and his followers might be allowed to examine the place, and engaged to take the guilt upon his own head. Somerlid, at last, though with some reluctance, consented, and pronounced these words: "Let the affair rest between thee and St. Maughold--let me and my troops be innocent--we claim no share of thy sacrilegious booty." GilColum, exceedingly happy at this declaration, ran back and ordered his vassals to assemble. He then desired that his three sons should be ready at daybreak, to surprise the church of St. Maughold, about two miles distant. Meanwhile, news was brought to those in the church that the enemy were advancing, which terrified them to such a degree that they all left the sanctuary, and sought shelter in caves and subterraneous dens. The other inhabitants of the district, with loud shrieks, spent the whole night in imploring the forgiveness of God, through the merits of Maughold. The weaker sex, also, with dishevelled locks, ran frantic about the walls of the church, yelling and crying with a loud voice, "Where art thou departed, Holy Maughold? Where are the wonders that, in the old time before us, thou wroughtest in this spot--hast thou abandoned us for our transgressions--wilt thou forsake thy people in such an extremity? If not in compassion towards us, yet for thine own honour, once more send us deliverance."
Maughold mollified, as we suppose, by these and the like supplications, pitied the distress of his votaries. He snatched them from their imminent danger, and consigned their adversary to instantaneous death. GilColum had no sooner fallen asleep in his tent than St. Maughold, arrayed in a white garment, and holding a pastoral staff in his hand, appeared to the robber. He placed himself opposite to the couch, and thus addressed him:--"What hast thou against me, GilColum? Wherein have I, or any of my servants, offended thee, that thou shouldest thus covet what is deposited within my sanctuary?" GilColum answered, "And who art thou?" He replied, "I am the servant of Christ; my name, Maughold, whose church thou purposest to violate; but vain are thy endeavours!" On this, raising the staff which he held, he struck him to the heart. The impious man was confounded, and awakened his soldiers, who were sleeping in their tents. The Saint struck him again, which made the ruffian utter a shriek, so hideous, that his son, and
followers, ran in the greatest consternation to see what was the matter. The wretch's tongue clove to his mouth in such a manner that it was with much difficulty he could utter the following sentence:--"Maughold," said he with a groan, "was here, and thrice he struck me with his rod. Go, therefore, to the church, bring his staff, and also priests and clerks, that they may make intercession for me, if, peradventure, St. Maughold will forgive what I devised against him." In obedience his attendants straightway implored the priests to bring the staff, and to visit their master apparently in the agonies of death, relating at the same time what had happened. The priests and clerks and people, on hearing of the miracle, were exceedingly rejoiced indeed, and despatched some clergymen with the crosier. Coming into the presence of the afflicted wretch they found him almost breathless, wherefore one of the clerks pronounced the following imprecation:--"May St. Maughold, who first laid his vengeful hand upon thee, never remove thy plagues till he has bruised thee to pieces. Thus shall others by seeing and hearing thy punishment learn to pay due respect to hallowed ground." The clergy then retired, and immediately such a swarm of monstrous, filthy flies come buzzing about the ruffian's face and mouth, that neither he himself nor his attendants could drive them away. At last, about the sixth hour of the day, he expired in great misery and dismal torture. The exit of this man struck Somerlid and his whole host with such dismay that, as soon as the tide floated their ships, they weighed anchor, and with precipitancy returned home.
There was a certain person called Donald, a veteran Chieftain, and a particular favourite of Harald Olaveson. This man, flying the persecution raised by Harald Godredson, took sanctuary with his infant child in St. Mary's Monastery, at Rushen. Thither Harald Godredson followed, and as he could not offer violence in this privileged place, he, in flattering and deceitful language, addressed the aged man to this purpose:--"Why dost thou thus resolve to fly from me? I mean to do thee no harm." He then assured him of protection, adding that he might depart in peace to any part of the country he had a mind. The veteran, relying on the solemn promise and veracity of the King, followed him out of the Monastery. Within a short space, however, his Majesty manifested his sinister intentions, and demonstrated that he paid no regard to truth, or even his oath. He ordered the old man to be apprehended, bound, and carried to an Isle in the Lake at Myrescogh where he was consigned over to the charge of a strong guard, In this distress,
[paragraph continues] Donald still had confidence towards God. As often as he could bend his knees, he prayed the Lord to deliver him from his chains, through the intercession of the blessed Virgin, from whose Monastery he had been so insidiously betrayed. The Divine interposition was not withheld. One day as he was sitting in his chamber, and guarded only by two sentinels, for the others were absent, suddenly the fetters dropped from his ankles, and left him at full liberty to escape. He reflected, notwithstanding, that he could elope more successfully during the night while the sentinels were a sleep, and from this consideration attempted to replace his feet in the fetters, but to his astonishment found it impossible. Concluding, therefore, that this was wrought by the might of Heaven, he wrapped himself in his mantle, and taking to his heels, made the best of his way. One of the sentinels, a baker by trade, observing him, immediately started up and pursued. Having run a good way, eager to overtake the fugitive, he hit his shin a severe blow against a log; and thus while posting full speed he was so arrested by the power of the Lord that he could not stand. Hence the good man, by the help of Heaven, got clear, and on the third day he reached St. Mary's Abbey at Rushen, where he put up thanksgivings to God and the most merciful Mother for the deliverance. This declaration, adds the chronicler, we have recorded from the man's own mouth. This took place in 1249. 1
In a wild and barren field near Ballafletcher there was formerly a large Stone Cross, but in the many changes and revolutions which have happened in this Island has been broken down, and part of it lost; but there still remains the cross part. This has several times been attempted to be removed by persons who pretended a claim to whatever was on that ground, and wanted this piece of stone; but all their endeavours have been unsuccessful. Nor could the strongest team of horses be able to remove it, though irons were placed about it for that purpose. One day a great number of people being gathered about it, contriving new methods for the taking of it away, a very venerable old man appeared among the crowd, and, seeing a boy of about six or seven years of age, he bade him to put his hand to the stone, which the child doing, it immediately turned under his touch, and under it was found a piece of paper, on which were written these words: "Fear God, obey the priesthood, and do to your neighbour as you would have him do to you." Everybody present was in the
utmost surprise, especially when looking for the old man in order to ask him some questions concerning the miraculous removal of the stone, he was not to be found, though it was not a minute that they had taken their eyes off him, and there was neither house nor hut in a great distance where he could possibly have concealed himself. The paper was, however, carefully preserved, and carried to the vicar, who wrote copies of it, and dispersed them over the Island. They tell you that they are of such wonderful virtue to whoever wears them that on whatever business they go they are certain of success. They also defend from witchcraft, evil tongues, and all efforts of the devil or his agents.--Waldron.
Down in the valley of St. Mark's, near a little purling brook, lies the famous granite boulder, weighing between twenty and thirty tons, known by the name of Goddard Crovan's stone. It was cast into this situation one day by Goddard Crovan, son of Harold the Black, of Iceland, who lived with his termagant wife in a great castle on the top of Barrule. Unable to endure the violence of her tongue, he turned her unceremoniously out of doors. After descending the mountain some distance, imagining herself out of reach, she turned round and began again to rate him so soundly at the full pitch of her voice that, in a rage, he seized on this huge granite boulder, and hurling it with all his might killed her on the spot. This took place about the year 1060.--Cumming.
This stone was broken up and used in building the parsonage house at St. Mark's, and has been considered effectual as a specific for the cure of a termagant by every occupier.
According to tradition, there resided in Man, in the days of Olave Goddardson, a great Norman baron, named Kitter, who was so fond of the chase that he extirpated all the bisons and elks with which the Island abounded at the time of his arrival, to the utter dismay of the people, who, dreading that he might likewise deprive them of the cattle, and even of their purrs in the mountains, had recourse to witchcraft to prevent such a disaster. When this Nimrod of the north had destroyed all the wild animals of the chase in Man, he one day extended his havoc to the red deer of the Calf, leaving at his castle, on the brow of Barrule, only the cook, whose name was Eaoch (which signifies a person who can cry aloud), to dress the provisions intended for his dinner. Eaoch happened to fall asleep at his work in the kitchen. The famous witch-wife Ada caused the
fat accumulated at the lee side of the boiling pot to bubble over into the fire, which set the house in a blaze. The astonished cook immediately exerted his characteristic powers to such an extent that he alarmed the hunters in the Calf, a distance. of nearly ten miles.
Kitter, hearing the cries of his cook, and seeing his castle in· flames, made to the beach with all possible speed, and embarked. in a small currach for Man, accompanied by nearly all his--attendants. When about half way, the frail bark struck on a rock (which, from that circumstance, has since been called Kitterland), and all on board perished.
The fate of the great baron, and the destruction of his boat, caused the surviving Norwegians to believe that Eaoch the cook was in league with the witches of the Island, to extirpate the Norwegians then in Man; and on this charge he was brought to trial,: and sentenced to suffer death. The unfortunate cook heard his doom pronounced with great composure; but claimed the privilege, at that time allowed to criminals in Norway, of choosing the place and manner of passing from time to eternity. This was readily granted by the king. "Then," said the cook, with a loud voice, "I wish my head to be laid across one of your majesty's legs, and there cut off by your majesty's sword, Macabuin, which was made by Loan Maclibuin, the Dark Smith of Drontheim."
It being generally known that the king's scimitar could sever even a mountain of granite, if brought into immediate contact with its edge, it was the wish of everyone present that he would not comply with the subtle artifice of such a low varlet as Eaoch the cook; but his majesty would not retract the permission so recently given, and, therefore, gave orders that the execution should take place in the manner desired.
Although the unflinching integrity of Olave was admired by his subjects, they sympathised deeply for the personal injury to which he exposed himself, rather than deviate from the path of rectitude. But Ada, the witch, was at hand: she ordered toads' skins, twigs of the rowan tree, and adders eggs, each to the number of nine times nine, to be placed between the king's. leg and the cook's head, to which he assented.
All these things being properly adjusted, the great sword, Macabuin, made by Loan Maclibuin, the Dark Smith of Drontheim, was lifted with the greatest caution by one of the king's most trusty servants, and laid gently on the neck of the cook; but ere its downward course could be stayed, it severed the head from the body of Eaoch, and cut all the preventives asunder, except the last, thereby saving the king's leg from harm
When the Dark Smith of Drontheim heard of the stratagem
submitted to by Olave to thwart the efficacy of the sword Macabuin, he was so highly offended that he despatched his hammerman, Hiallus-nan-urd, who had only one leg, having lost the other when assisting in making that great sword, to the Castle of Peel to challenge King Olave or any of his people to walk with him to Drontheim. It was accounted very dishonourable in those days to refuse a challenge, particularly if connected with a point of honour. Olave, in mere compliance with this rule, accepted the challenge, and set out to walk against the one-legged traveller from the Isle of Man to the smithy of Loan Maclibhuin, in Drontheim.
And so equal was the match that, when within sight of the smithy, Hiallus-nan-urd, who was first, called at Loan Maclibhuin to open the door, and Olave called out to shut it. At that instant, pushing past he of the one leg, the King entered the smithy first, to the evident discomfiture of the swarthy smith and his assistant. To show that he was not in the least fatigued, Olave lifted a large forehammer, and under pretence of assisting the smith, struck the anvil with such force that he clove it not only from top to bottom, but also the block upon which it rested.
Emergaid, the daughter of Loan, seeing Olave perform such manly prowess, fell so deeply in love with him that during the time her father was replacing the block and the anvil, she found an opportunity of informing him that her father was only replacing the studdy to finish a sword he was making, and that he had decoyed him to that place for the purpose of destruction, as it had been prophesied that the sword would be tempered in Royal blood, and in revenge for the affront of the cook's death by the sword Macabuin. "Is not your father the seventh son of old windy cap, King of Norway?" said Olave. "He is," replied Emergaid, as her father entered the smithy. "Then," cried the King of Man, as he drew the red steel from the fire, "the prophecy must be fulfilled." Emergaid was unable to stay his uplifted hand till he quenched the sword in the blood of her father, and afterwards pierced the heart of the one-legged hammerman, who he knew was in the plot of taking his life.
This tragical event was followed by one of a more agreeable nature. Olave, conscious that had it not been for the timely intervention of Emergaid, the sword of her father would indeed have been tempered in his blood, and knowing the irreparable loss which she had sustained at his hands, made her his queen, and from her were descended all succeeding Kings of Man down to Magnus, the last of the race of Goddard Crovan, the Conqueror.--Train.
Alswith, a son of Hiallus-nan-ard, the dark smith of Drontheim, whom Olave Goddardson slew in the smithy of Loan Maclibuin, undertook to walk round all the churches in the Isle of Man in one day. Now, in these days there were a great number of churches and chapels which St. Germanus had caused to be built, and the roads were then very rough and steep over the mountains, so that it was no easy task to accomplish this. However, Alswith started off very early one fine summer's morning, and he walked and walked till he had almost accomplished his task. As the evening was drawing on he approached the Tynwald Chapel at St. John's, and from thence pursued his way along the old road leading to the Staarvey, the road up Craig Willey's hill not having been made till long after this. It was now getting very late, and he had still to visit Kirk Michael before his task would be completed; so he pushed on faster than ever, so that when going up the hill leading over "The Driney" he fell down quite exhausted with fatigue and feeling utterly miserable at not having accomplished his undertaking. Since then that hill has been called Ughtagh breesh my chree, "Break my heart hill."
"In the year 1249 Reginald began to reign on the 6th May, and on the 30th May of the same month was slain by the Knight Ivar and his accomplices."--Chronicon Manniæ.
There was a young and gallant knight, named Ivar, who was enamoured of a very beautiful maiden, named Matilda. He loved her ardently, and she reciprocated his affection. From childhood they had been companions, and as they grew up in years, the firmer became they attached to each other. Never, indeed, were two beings more indissolubly bound by the fetters of love than Ivar and Matilda. But storms will overcast the serenest sky. At this period Reginald was King of the Isle of Man; and, according to ancient custom, it was incumbent upon Ivar to present his betrothed at the Court of the Monarch, and obtain his consent, prior to becoming linked in more indissoluble fetters with her. The nuptial day had already been fixed, the feast had been prepared, and it was noised abroad that the great and noble of the Island were to be present at the celebration of the marriage. King Reginald resided in Rushen Castle, in all the barbaric pomp which was predominant in those olden times; and thither Ivar, accompanied by Matilda, proceeded to
wait upon him. Dismounting from their horses at the entrance of the keep, they were conducted to the presence of the King. Ivar doffed his jewelled cap, and made obeisance; then, leading forward Matilda, he presented her to him. Reginald was greatly enraptured with the maiden's beauty from the first moment she had met his gaze, and swore inwardly that he would possess her for himself, and spoil the knight of his affianced bride. To carry into effect his wicked purpose, he accused Ivar of pretended crimes; and, ordering in his guards, banished him from his presence; detaining, however, the maiden. Vain would it be to depict Matilda's anguish at this barbarous treatment. Reginald endeavoured to sooth her agitation, but it was to no purpose. He talked to her of his devoted love, but the maiden spurned his impious offers with contempt. Exasperated at her resistance, he had her confined in one of the most solitary apartments in the Castle. In the meantime, Ivar exerted himself to avenge the deep injury which he had received; but Reginald had such despotic sway, that all his endeavours proved abortive. At length he resolved to retire from the world, to assume the monastic habit, and to join the pious brotherhood of the Monastery of St. Mary's of Rushen. The brethren received him with joy, commiserating the bereavement which he had sustained. Ivar was now devoted to acts of piety; but still he did not forget his Matilda. Sometimes he would ascend the Hill, and gaze towards the Castle, wondering if Matilda were yet alive. One day, matin prayers having been offered up, Ivar wandered as usual through the woods, thinking of his betrothed, and bowed down with sorrow. At last he reclined on the grass to rest; when, looking around, he beheld a fissure in a rock which abutted from an eminence immediately opposite. Curiosity induced him to go near; and he discovered that it was the entrance to a subterranean passage. venturing in, he proceeded for some distance. Onward he went, till a great door arrested his progress. After some difficulty it yielded to his endeavours, and he passed through. Suddenly a piercing shriek, which reverberated along the echoing vaults fixed him horror-struck for a moment to the place. It was repeated faintly several times. A faint glimmer of light now broke in upon his path, and he found himself in a vaulted chamber. Passing through it, another cry met his ear; and rushing impetuously forward, he heard a voice in a state of exhaustion exclaim, "Mother of God, save Matilda!" Whilst, through a chink in the barrier, he beheld his long lost love, with dishevelled hair and throbbing bosom, in the arms of the tyrant Reginald. Ivar instantly sprang through the barrier, rushed upon the wretch, and, seizing his sword, which lay carelessly on the table, plunged it into Reginald's bosom. Ivar,
carrying Matilda in his arms, continued on through the subterranean passage, which brought them to the sea side where they met with a boat, which conveyed them to Ireland. There they were united in holy matrimony, and passed the remainder of their days in the raptures of a generous love, heightened by mutual admiration and gratitude.
20:1 Stoke's Translation, p. 223.
21:1 Manx Society, vol. xxi., pp. 29-33; or Train's History of Isle of Man, p. 52.
22:1 From Kennedy's Legendary Fictions of the Irish Celts, London, 1866; original authority The Book of Armagh, probably written in the eighth century.
23:1 Conindrius and Romuilus, supposed to have been the two first Bishops of the Island.
26:1 Founded on the account given in the Chronicon Manniæ.